Each year thousands of pets are abandoned by their owners or left at homeless shelters, charities and clinics. Adopting a homeless animal gives an unwanted pet a second chance at life. To mark International Homeless Animals’ Day, here’s our guide to adopting a homeless pet.
1. Search for shelters in your local area.
There may be an animal adoption charity or home that focuses on re-housing pets in your region. Shelters look after unwanted guinea pigs, rabbits, rats, hamsters and birds as well as cats and dogs – so no matter what your pet preference, you can help rehome even the most unusual animals!
2. Think about what you can offer.
Some charities, like the RSPCA, deal with animals that have been victims of cruelty and require rehabilitation and extra special care. Ask yourself if you are able to support a rescue animal or would prefer to adopt one that doesn’t suffer from health complaints. Do you have the time, money and space every pet deserves? If you have small children at home, it is important to make the shelter aware of this so that a dog or cat with suitable traits can be selected.
3. Fill out the paperwork.
You will need to fill out a form that includes your details and information on the type of animal you’d like to adopt. This allows adoption staff to match each animal up with a suitable new owner. In some cases you may be interviewed by staff as well.
4. Meet your pet!
Lots of animal shelters give you the chance to reserve and meet your pet in advance so they can get used to you before you take them home. If you have other animals, they should meet the new family member too to ensure they get along.
5. Prepare your home.
Some animal centres and adoption agencies like to view your property to check that it’s suitable for your soon-to-be pet. You’ll need some essentials; for a dog we recommend a bed, toy, lead and bowls. Just to get you started.
6. Be patient.
Young animals in their first home can often be a blank canvas for you to train and mould, but a rescue pet will come with a whole set of pre-existing traits; some good and some bad, which you’ll either need to manage, try to change or learn to love!
7. Get insurance.
It can be useful to arrange pet insurance in case your animal becomes ill or has an injury and you have to cover unforeseen costs. Animals adopted from the RSPCA will already be microchipped, vaccinated and neutered so you won’t need to consider those expenses!
8. Can’t rehome?
Try sponsoring or fostering! If you can’t offer an animal a new home then you could consider sponsorship. Your money would go towards giving an animal a better quality of life. Charities like the RSPCA and Cats Protection offer gift packages too. Fostering is another option. This is a volunteer role that can make a huge difference to the rehabilitation of an animal. Animals involved in a prosecution case, or animals that don’t cope well in an animal centre environment, are fostered temporarily by a network of approved carers. More information on fostering an animal can be found on the RSPCA website.
Have you had any experience of re-homing a pet? Share your stories and photos with us on Twitter and Facebook.